Poetry by FM Stringer

The What

Carson paraphrases, hell’s as deep as the sun is high
You say (or was it me?) and pull another bump

Off a house key’s sawtooth end, waxing: considering
The model of the universe as we understand it

From syndication Discovery, Sagan and his dots

The what of everything infinitely bigger than that
Right?—whole galaxies

Galaxies-farther than the sun is away from us—

What are we supposed to make of a hell whole hells

You do the thing where your eyes parse the room
The kind of party where nobody knows what song is playing
Touching only momentarily

On each refocusing detail: a potted spider-plant’s
Spindly reach, the slit

Of light appearing at the refrigerator door’s opening
Suck, heads on bodies

All bouying a weird dance—those eyes
A pair of scavengers flickering a parking lot

Littered with the chilly bones of Olde
English bottles

Unable to land, not quite.

There’s something hard and weightless keeping us
From each other’s irises

Asking anything, even
Continuing the conversation

Which circles
Upward on the humming thermal column

At the center of all conversation
Through the ceiling and away.

San Francisco:

It’s afternoon. We’re crossing the heaving lung of the Tenderloin

Past grim building-fronts
Named in typefaces from another time—

Circled in bulbs, tubed neon, unlit
Sleeping, or embering a fading
Anonymous red—

What maybe once could’ve been
A different town
But probably not. You say

This last part easy as somebody orders coffee

Twenty-two and already certain there are places
That are graves

Where stopping turns to staying just another couple days
In a gutted squat

Working on a mural that is swirls of stolen paint, a churning
Face remembered, but from when?

Since dropping out of art school you don’t see faces the same way
You tell me

And kick a stone down the weed-split sidewalk, its squares
Just barely

Wobbled out of level by time or tremor, both—
An angular passage

Along which we, too, are moved
By some unnameable force—

The what of the face—

The binary of what is and isn’t in it—

An ex-lover’s red wink, your mother’s paper mouth
The damning syllables passing through it—

And in your own, becoming

More and more the movement of colors
Into one another than what comes after.

You begin to draw small circles in the heavy air
Squinting as each invisible lick

Overlaps the one before it
So what I imagine

Is a form ending itself over and over
On the blade of what replaces it.

FM Stringer

IG: @fmstringer

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